Utah weighing digital driver’s license option

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Iowa recently launched a digital driver’s license that you can keep in your smart phone instead of carrying a paper license in your wallet. All you have to do is download an app. Now Utah is weighing the option of launching one. But officials say there are some concerns.

The new digital driver’s license looks just like a regular license – only it’s in your phone – and it has a rotating head on the photo, that officials say helps prevent duplication.

“We’re following the discussion very intently,” said Christopher Caras, director of the Utah Driver License Division. “It’s really a national discussion. This is new technology. Iowa is really kind of unique in that they are the first to put something out to actually test at any level.”

Some Utah residents say they think it would great if you ever go out and forget to take your license.

“Going to the bar, you want a drink, you have your phone, but you don’t have your ID, you know, kind of solves the problem for you,” said Salt Lake resident Ryan Moore.

But Sgt. Todd Royce with the Utah Highway Patrol says they would be worried about taking someone’s phone with them during a traffic stop.

“It could get dropped, could get broken,” Royce said. “You know, we don’t want that liability when, if it’s just a plastic card, it’s not as big of a concern for us.”

Utah law mandates police must take a person’s license if they’re driving under the influence.

“How are we going to do that unless there’s an actual physical license?” he said.

Other residents say they’re concerned about security issues.

“You lose your phone, or someone hacks into your phone, unless you have a security measure on top of this – I mean, I could see something like that, but maybe like a 2-factor authentication for your phone?” said Amber McNay, another Salt Lake resident. “But even with that, it still gets a little iffy.”

The director of the Utah Driver’s License Division says they are weighing the pros and cons before making a decision.

“Once we can get some real answers to the questions, then we’ll look into it,” Caras said. “See how the Legislature and other stake holders feel about whether it’s of value to the citizens or not.”

Once the Driver’s License Division works out all the kinks, they may launch a test run of the digital license here in Utah in the near future.

4 comments

  • bob

    Taking someone’s license doesn’t stop them from driving, guys. All you can do is revoke the license. So it doesn’t matter whether you physically take a card away or not.

  • Randy

    So now people can keep their licence and give a friend or relative a digital copy to use as a fake ID great idea people will find away to abuse this or steal identity this way

  • Mimi

    Oh sure. That would be a great idea. Let’s put our driver’s license on our phone so that hackers can get access to it and steal our info.

  • Arby

    A lot of fear mongering going on. Digital wallets with credit cards, loyalty programs, etc. have been on phones for a long time, as have banking apps, insurance apps, email apps, etc. all of which include important information you wouldn’t want stolen, but identity theft hasn’t really been much of a problem with these, at least in the reported news. I don’t think a driver’s license app would be any more prone to identity theft than any of the other options that are already widely used. The comment about giving a digital copy to someone else… seriously??? The article mentioned safeguards against this and there are certainly many more safeguards to use as well–this isn’t just a jpeg image you’ll pull up on your phone.

    To answer the three concerns raised in the article: 1–police taking phones for traffic stops: the police also have a phone, so have them use NFC or optically scan the barcode or something with their phone. 2–revoking license: do it electronically and it disables the license on the phone; this could be done at the phone by NFC or entry of a police code, or could be done over the internet from the patrol car, precinct, etc. 3–security: the app can and should require some sort of lock screen (PIN/pattern/etc.) for the phone and optionally a second login (PIN/pattern/password/etc.) to login to the driver’s license app, with potential to add a biometric layer on top in the form of fingerprint, facial recognition, etc.

    I, for one, having been waiting for a digital driver’s license to happen for years now and the news that Utah is considering this is fantastic.

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